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Two Times Friends Saved My Life

person getting his blood drawn

When I finally made the minimum weight to be able to give blood. I signed up. When the day came, I went down, gave blood, and went back to my college dorm. I was dead tired. The blood donation took almost everything out of me.

Still, I had scheduled a racquetball game with one of my friends. I got dressed in my knee length cargo shorts and t-shirt, packed my gear, and dragged myself to the gym. When I got there, I put on my googles, and pulled my racket and racquetball container out of my bag. I opened the court where my friend was warming up and waiting for me.

We said our greetings, and then he asked me if I wanted to warm up. I was a lot better than him at the game at the time, so I said I’d just warm up while we’re playing. Then, I stood in position to receive the serve. He went to get the ball at the front of the court, and walking back, he could clearly see me.

“Are you sure you want to play?” He asked. “You look a little pale.”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I stood at the line. “Serve the ball. I’ll hit it.” I was slumped to my right; my racket rested on the floor from my hand.

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” he said.

“It’s fine. I’ll be fine.”

He looked at my left arm. “Did you give blood today?”

“Yeah. This morning.”

“Okay. We’re not playing. You’re going to go home and drink some orange juice.”

“Oh, come on! You could beat me this time.”

“I am not contributing to your death because you’re not smart enough to know not to play racquetball after donating blood.” He walked off the court. I followed. It was probably good that he was looking out for me when I wouldn’t do it for myself because of some ill-conceived and misplaced machismo.

The Second Mistake

I used to be an avid geocacher when I live in Alaska. It’s a high-tech treasure hunt game using a GPS to find items hidden by other cachers. My friend and I decided to go out on a warm winter day to find caches. It was between 10- and 12-degrees Fahrenheit. So, we put on our warm clothes, got into the car and drove to a nearby set of caches.

They were in one of the anchorage parks. The sun was warm, and the creek wasn’t completely frozen over. We found our first cache without a problem. As we were headed to our second cache, I decide to try to jump over the creek to get to the other side. Sure, I may have been able to walk a little farther down to a bridge somewhere, but the cache was so close.

I descended into the little ravine, sized up the distance, and jumped. I wasn’t even close. I landed on the ice, slipped and fell on my side breaking through. Water streamed into the opening of my plastic pants and into my warm, waterproof shoes.

My friend shook his head, grabbed my arm, and helped me back up the embankment. “What did you do that for?”

“The cache… It’s so close… It’s like,” I looked at my GPS, “10 feet in that direction.” I pointed over the creek. “Let’s go get it.”

“No. We’re going home.”

“I’ll be fine. It’ll only take a couple of minutes for us to find it.”

“No. We’re going home. You made the first mistake, but it’s the second mistake that gets people killed. Let’s not compound the mistake,” he said.

“But I don’t want to be the reason why we cut today’s caching short.”

“Sorry, but you are. Now, we’re going to get some pizza and put in a movie. Besides, how would it look for the Director of Health and Safety to wind up in the hospital with frostbite, or worse?”

We went back to the car.

It’s good to have friends who will stop you from doing the truly stupid stuff.

If you want more short stories told at and Alaskan Cabin (though not all are Alaskan), try my book. Or check out my illustrated, “There Are No Penguins in Alaska.”

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If you want to see a video of my friend and I trying to break a log while at a cabin:

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